Our Keepsake Journal is Here! 🎉

Everyone said he was a bad man, but at the time, I found their remarks confusing. I was a vibrant 5-year-old who loved her daddy unconditionally. With a smile as bright as the sun, and an eagerness that wouldn’t quit, I defended his honor any time it was of question. I thought the world of him, and I didn’t see where he lacked.

He was amazing in my eyes.

He could build things, fix things. Most of all, he could make things feel better. It tore me apart that he was gone all the time. I was usually aware when he was away, but I figured my dad just worked a lot. There were times when he would be gone for weeks, returning home with a shoddy excuse. I didn’t care, I was just glad he was back. I just knew I missed him so much while he was gone.

Upon arrival, he would open the front door, and my whole face would light up. I would shoot up from wherever I was, and dart right into his arms. If I were lucky, he would stay long enough to put me to bed. Sometimes he would even sing, “My Little Sunshine,” as I tried to fall asleep. Sure enough, as quickly as he appeared, he vanished; leaving me to discover his absence come morning. He was predictable in this way .

I honestly had no understanding of my dad’s addictions for the longest time. While I had heard people discussing it, at 5-years-old, I had no idea what they meant. All I knew is I wished he had just stayed a little longer.
By 6 years old my parents were divorced and I had visitation with him every other weekend. He would pick up my brother and I sober, and the first place we would stop he would buy a 20 pack of Budweiser. I could identify the density of beer that was on my dad’s breath on any given weekend.

I remember hating it.

When he drank, he would always breathe heavy through his nose. His exhale would ignite the scent of putrid beer on his tongue, expelling the stench into the air. He would lean in to kiss me on the forehead, and I would turn away out of fear the stench would be stuck on my face.

I remember asking my mom why my dad drank, but even she didn’t know, she just wished he would stop. I felt like anytime I wanted to spend time with him, or suggested something we could do together, he would find some excuse as to why he couldn’t. I began to feel like he had something better to do.
I began to feel like I wasn’t enough.

What had I done wrong to cause my favorite person in the world to avoid being with me? I just wanted to be near him, I didn’t understand. Had I upset him? Was he embarrassed of me? I went through a whole list of what could have been wrong with me to have caused him to treat me this way.

I tried harder. I could be better.

I remember trying so hard to impress my dad, thinking if I sparked his interest, maybe then I would be worthy. I smiled bigger, ran faster, did my chores, and then some. Still nothing. I couldn’t help but blame myself for the response I got from my father, although, it never was my fault. I used to pray my hardest at night, that god would forgive my father and make him a better man. At least well enough to enjoy time with me.

I last saw my dad when I was 7-years-old. I hate to remind myself of that day, but I do remember it fully. I remember looking into his eyes and seeing the shell of a man he had become. It took years for me to understand, but eventually I realized, there was nothing wrong with me.

I will always be more than enough.

It was he who was lacking, taking the irreplaceable for granted. Seriously. While some may think I resent him, I don’t. I may die never understanding who he was, or why he behaved that way. But when it comes to my father, I have no unanswered questions. In his presence and absence, he has taught me what kind of parent I want to be.

If you ask me? I don’t want to miss a thing.

All I know is when my son asks if I will watch him play with his Hot Wheels, I will jump at the opportunity. Deep down, I  know it means the world to him. It boosts his confidence, and let’s him show off his cool stuff! The best part? He gets to feel important, even if only for a little bit. Having experienced the defeating feeling of being let down, that would be the last thing I would want for any of my kids.

When we play with our children we show them how proud we are to call them our own. We demonstrate our amazement at how much they’ve learned and grown. We encourage them to reach higher! Why? Because they know, if they fall, we will be there to catch them.

I hope the next time you get the temptation to decline a child’s invitation to play, you remember the impact you have on their pride and self-esteem. Know that even 5 minutes will give them enough glory to keep them feeling awesome much longer than you’d expect.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Lacey Burch

I'm your typical desert mom; surrounded by cacti, while navigating the treacherous landscape called parenthood. I'm always up for a good challenge and making new connections with those who enjoy expanding their mind just as I do. My most over-used statement would have to be,"Life is too short to settle."I am definitely a work in progress, but who isn't, right?

The Ravages of Schizophrenia: A Mother’s Perspective

In: Grief, Grown Children, Living, Loss, Motherhood
Hands holding dandelion fluff

Our bright, beautiful, beloved son was diagnosed with schizophrenia in his late 20s. Although the manifestation of his illness surfaced in his late teens, it took an excruciating 10 years to receive a formal, medical diagnosis. As a child, Mike was a delight. He was a popular kid who loved his family, his friends, wrestling, and basketball. He giggled sometimes and acted silly, which just made him more endearing. His life was filled with joy, happiness, and promise. After Mike’s 17th birthday, behavioral changes began to surface. He smoked marijuana. He drank alcohol to excess. His friends disappeared, one by...

Keep Reading

To the Miscarriage Mom with a Broken Heart on Mother’s Day

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman holding single pink daisy

Dear Mama, I want you to know—you aren’t alone. Not even by a little bit. Not ever, but especially not today. There are hearts like yours breaking all over the world today. Whether you are grieving one loss or multiple. Whether you already have a healthy family or this would have been your firstborn. Whether you were family planning the natural way or needed a little help from science. Planned, unplanned. Chemical pregnancy, missed miscarriage, late-term loss. Those details don’t matter today. Today, all our hearts hurt the same. We are all part of the same club we never asked...

Keep Reading

Call Your Mom for Those of Us Who Can’t

In: Grief, Loss
Sunset over water, color photo

I never pictured myself without my mama at only 26 years old. I never saw a life when I couldn’t just pick up my phone to call you after the worst day at work. I never thought I would be crying over one of your recipes at Christmas time because I just can’t make it taste like you did. I never thought I would be jealous when I heard my friends talk about meeting up with their mom for a girl’s day. Here’s the thing, yes I knew it would eventually happen, but I pictured the both of us a...

Keep Reading

Dear Cancer, I Thought We Paid Our Dues

In: Grief, Living, Loss
Mother and grown daughter, smiling, color pboto

This is not how it was supposed to be. I am most certainly not made for this. God, why are you forcing me to travel this road again? When my father died after a long, grueling battle with Stage 4 base of the tongue cancer, I very naively thought, bye cancer. Our family paid our dues, and cancer was never to be seen again. I put on a brave face and began to write about my dad’s cancer journey. I believed the more I poured my heart onto a piece of paper the more cancer would stay away for good....

Keep Reading

A Grandmother’s Legacy Never Dies

In: Grief, Loss
A group of kids, old color photo

My grandmother was a Christian puppeteer. She would play the parts of brother and sister, Wilbur and Willette, race their dog King back and forth, and yell in their mother’s scratchy voice from “off stage,” all from behind her big blue curtain while my aunt talked to the puppets and sang from center stage. Sometimes I’d sit on a folding chair behind the curtain with her. Sometimes I’d watch from the audience. From churches to the Iowa State Fair to summer camps, I witnessed hundreds of children give their lives to Jesus. She wasn’t just my grandmother, she was a...

Keep Reading

Losing a Brother, Understanding My Mother

In: Grief, Loss
Sad woman looking out rainy window

At the end of his life, I didn’t like my brother. That feels awful to say. It probably is awful. My brother died at 35 years old of liver failure. It was a long, ugly death full of prolonged hospital stays and frustration. Even before he was relegated to life support and dialysis, the disease changed him. Maybe he knew what was coming, I don’t know. When he did talk, he was rude or short or full of insults. He had withered into a mean, isolated version of himself. Mostly, I was angry at him for refusing to change. I was...

Keep Reading

A Funeral, a Baby, and Whispers of Love

In: Grief, Loss
Newborn baby next to a purple onesie about a grandma in heaven

I woke up and saw a missed call from the hospital. I called her room, no answer. I  called the front desk and was immediately transferred to the doctor on rotation. My mother had crashed and was in the ICU. He asked if I wanted CPR if she coded. I needed to make a decision and come into the hospital as soon as possible. It was the wee hours of the morning, and I made it to the hospital fairly quickly. I grabbed my mother’s hand—it was ice cold. The nurses were talking to me, but I had tuned out,...

Keep Reading

The Last Text I Sent Said “I Love You”

In: Friendship, Grief, Living
Soldier in dress uniform, color photo

I’ve been saying “I love you” a lot recently. Not because I have been swept off my feet. Rather, out of a deep appreciation for the people in my life. My children, their significant others, and friends near and far. I have been blessed to keep many faithful friendships, despite the transitions we all experience throughout our lives.  Those from childhood, reunited high school classmates, children of my parent’s friends (who became like family), and those I met at college, through work and shared activities. While physical distance has challenged many of these relationships, cell phones, and Facebook have made...

Keep Reading

I Obsessed over Her Heartbeat Because She’s My Rainbow Baby

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Mother and teen daughter with ice cream cones, color photo

I delivered a stillborn sleeping baby boy five years before my rainbow baby. I carried this sweet baby boy for seven whole months with no indication that he wouldn’t live. Listening to his heartbeat at each prenatal visit until one day there was no heartbeat to hear. It crushed me. ”I’m sorry but your baby is dead,” are words I’ll never be able to unhear. And because of these words, I had no words. For what felt like weeks, I spoke only in tears as they streamed down my cheeks. But I know it couldn’t have been that long. Because...

Keep Reading

We’re Walking the Road of Twin Loss Together

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Mother and son walk along beach holding hands

He climbed into our bed last week, holding the teddy bear that came home in his twin brother’s hospital grief box almost 10 years earlier. “Mom, I really miss my brother. And do you see that picture of me over there with you, me and his picture in your belly? It makes me really, really sad when I look at it.” A week later, he was having a bad day and said, “I wish I could trade places with my brother.” No, he’s not disturbed or mentally ill. He’s a happy-go-lucky little boy who is grieving the brother who grew...

Keep Reading